Town’s ballot order determined for fall

Town Registrars of Voters Fred DeCaro III and Sharon Vecchiolla drew the names out in a random lottery for ballot order in November’s municipal elections. — Ken Borsuk photo

Town Registrars of Voters Fred DeCaro III and Sharon Vecchiolla drew the names out in a random lottery for ballot order in November’s municipal elections.
— Ken Borsuk photo

There was a lottery drawing last week but the winners weren’t looking for a shot at the latest Powerball jackpot. Instead they were hoping for prime positions as they seek Greenwich elected office.

The candidates for this year’s Board of Education and Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) races found out last Thursday exactly where they will be on the ballot after a lottery drawing was held inside the town’s Registrar of Voters office. This is a standard procedure but this year several of the candidates showed up including BET incumbents Leslie Tarkington and Mary Lee Kiernan and BET office seeker John Blankley. Democratic Board of Education candidate Debbie Appelbaum also attended as did Selectman Drew Marzullo, causing people in the Registrar of Voters office to joke they had never received this much attention before.

The actual lottery was done, quite dramatically, by pulling names out of a tin can. Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro III and Democratic Registrar of Voters Sharon Vecchiolla put all the candidates’ names on pieces of paper and each of them withdrew the ones randomly for their political parties, determining who would get what spots on the ballot.

“We wore short sleeves today so you could know we didn’t have anything up them,” Mr. DeCaro joked.

For Republicans running for the BET, Nancy Weissler will have the first spot on the ballot followed by Michael Mason, the board’s chairman, Art Norton, Ms. Tarkington, Bill Drake and Marc Johnson. Four of the six are incumbents with Ms. Weissler and Mr. Drake seeking their first terms. For the Democrats, Randall Huffman will lead the pack followed by William Finger, Mr. Blankley, Ms. Kiernan, Jeffrey Ramer and Sean Goldrick. Mr. Blankley is the lone newcomer for the Democrats on the finance board.

The order for the Board of Education candidates was much simpler. Republicans Peter Bernstein and incumbent Peter Sherr have the first two spots followed by Brian Peldunas. The Democrats’ order is Debbie Appelbaum and Laura Erickson with Samarpana Tamm getting the third spot.

Positioning for the BET will not have much of an impact since each party is running six candidates for their six spots on the board. However, there could well be some bragging rights involved for whomever gets the most votes. But the ballot order could have an impact on the Board of Education race where both the Republicans and Democrats are running three candidates for two spots. The Republican Town Committee gave its endorsements last month to Mr. Peldunas and Mr. Bernstein while Greenwich Democrats supported Ms. Tamm and Ms. Appelbaum. Mr. Sherr, who is seeking his second term, was able to petition his way onto the ballot as a Republican, as did Ms. Erickson as a Democrat.

“It’s so rare that we have a contested municipal election for these boards that there’s really no data to show whether the order helps or not,” Mr. DeCaro told the Post. “I don’t think it makes much difference. But people think it makes a difference when it comes to the rows on the ballot.”

This year the Republicans will have the coveted “row A” on the ballot throughout the state. That position is determined by whichever party won the most votes for governor in the last election and since Gov. Dannel Malloy is a Democrat, they had the top spot in 2011. However a court challenge resulted in that being reversed for this year. In the 2010 election, Mr. Malloy did receive more votes than Republican challenger Tom Foley, but because so many of Mr. Malloy’s votes came from his line on the ballot as a member of the Working Families Party, the Republican actually received more votes than the Democrat.

That means the Republicans led by First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman David Theis will have the top line in Greenwich this year.

The day of the lottery was also a day for everyone in the office to celebrate, though. Last Thursday was also Ms. Vecchiolla’s birthday and a cake was brought out for everyone to wish her a happy one. After the lottery, the candidates of all political stripes then joined in the celebration, indicating that partisan politics will only go so far when it comes to cake.

 

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